"Guns N' Roses" is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1985. The band, led by frontman and co-founder Axl Rose, has gone through numerous line-up changes and controversy since its formation. Guns N' Roses has released five studio albums, two EPs, one live album, and three music video DVDs during its career. The band is currently working on the infamous album "Chinese Democracy", which has been in production for over a decade and is scheduled for release on November 23, 2008. Once released, the album will be the first original recording from Guns N' Roses since the 1991 releases of "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II".
Guns N' Roses has sold an estimated 90 million albums worldwide, including 39 million in the United States. The band's 1987 major label debut album, entitled "Appetite for Destruction", has sold 27 million copies worldwide and reached number one on the United States Billboard 200. In addition, the album charted three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Sweet Child o' Mine" which reached number one. 1991's "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II" debuted on the two highest spots on the Billboard 200 and have sold a combined 14 million copies in the United States alone.
The group was formed in March 1985 by Hollywood Rose members Axl Rose (vocals), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), and L.A. Guns members Tracii Guns, Ole Beich (bass) and Rob Gardner (drums). The band created its name by combining the names of the two original groups. Its first performance took place on March 26, 1985. A short time later, guitarist Tracii Guns left the group to reform L.A. Guns and was later replaced by Slash, after Duff McKagan replaced Ole Beich. Slash had known Rose and Stradlin during a short stint in Hollywood Rose. The new line-up came together quickly, and, after Gardner quit and was replaced by Steven Adler, the band established its first stable line-up. It wasn't until June 1985, when the band members went on what they dubbed the "Hell Tour" from L.A. to Seattle, that their camaraderie as members of Guns N' Roses really solidified. According to an , Slash insists, "That is really what cemented the band" and established its chemistry.
After witnessing a Guns N' Roses show at the Troubadour, Tom Zutaut, a Geffen Records A&R executive, falsely warned other scouts "they suck" so he could have more time and leeway to try to sign them. Axl Rose demanded, and received, a $75,000 advance from Zutaut before revealing that he had promised an A&R executive from Chrysalis that the band would sign with her if she walked naked down Sunset Boulevard. For three days, Zutaut nervously watched from his office window for a naked A&R executive before he could close the deal. Alan Niven was subsequently hired as the band's manager, and the team set out to record the band's full-length debut album.
===="Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide"====
Before the first full album was ready Geffen decided to release an EP to keep the interest in the band that had to disappear from the clubs scene to work on the album. For this purpose an "independent label" Uzi Suicide Records was created by Geffen and on December 16 1986, a four song EP entitled "Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide" was released.
Designed to gauge public opinion of the band outside of Los Angeles, the record contained covers of Rose Tattoo's "Nice Boys" and Aerosmith's "Mama Kin", along with two original compositions: the punk anthem "Reckless Life" and the classic rock inspired "Move to the City", both of which were co-written by Hollywood Rose's founding member Chris Weber. Despite having the look and sound of a live album, band members have admitted that the tracks were actually studio recordings with a live audience overdubbed.
Only 10,000 vinyl copies of the album were produced, and even though the tracks were re-issued verbatim two years later as part of the "GN'R Lies" EP, the original "Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide" has been a valuable and sought after collector's item among fans since the late 1980s.
==="Appetite for Destruction", "G N' R Lies" (1987–1989)===
The band's first album, "Appetite for Destruction" was released on July 21, 1987. In the US, "Welcome to the Jungle" was issued as its first single with an accompanying music video. Initially, the album and single lingered for almost a year without performing well, but when Geffen Records founder David Geffen was asked to lend support to the band, he obliged by personally convincing MTV executives to play "Welcome to the Jungle" during their after hours rotation. Even though the video was initially only played one time at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, rock and punk fans took notice and soon began requesting the video and song en masse. rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin quit the band due to a combination of being upset with Rose's management of the band
In 1994, Gilby Clarke left the band, and was replaced with Paul Tobias. That same year, the band recorded a cover version of The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" for the movie "Interview with the Vampire". According to Slash's autobiography published in 2007, the first version of guitar track was rejected by Axl - he wanted Slash to copy Keith Richard's playing on the original while Slash wanted to create a 'Guns N' Roses version' of the song rather than copy Keith's style. Reluctantly Slash agreed and recorded another version closer to the original. Slash was further infuriated when he discovered Tobias' guitar copying his own solo note by note layered in the final mix of the song. This would be the last recording by the original version of the band, and five years would go by before any new material came out under the Guns N' Roses name.
Slash then drifted in and out of the band for the next couple of years, beginning a side project called Slash's Snakepit. In August 1996, the band returned to the studio, even though McKagan and Sorum were simultaneously touring with their side project Neurotic Outsiders. Eventually, only Slash and Rose were left alone to continue working. During this period, Slash commented in an interview, "My relationship with Axl right now is sort of at a stand still." Additionally, during this period, Axl had approached guitarist Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society) about jamming with the band and possibly joining Guns N' Roses.
In 1996 and 1997 Slash, Sorum and McKagan all left the band for good, leaving Rose as the only remaining charter member of the band. Despite what many people believe, Slash did not leave Guns N' Roses due to artistic differences between Axl and Slash, however, he left due to three reasons, according to his book:
1) Axl Rose's insistence on unnecessarily going onstage late, despite every member of the band being ready.
2) The lack of respect felt by Slash and Duff from Axl by downgrading them to sign contracts giving Axl the rights to the name of the band, and hiring extra musicians to play over Slash's guitar parts.
3) The loss of Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin, who were such a huge part of Guns N' Roses, and without them the band were never the same.
Slash, McKagan and Sorum later formed rock supergroup Velvet Revolver with former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland and Infectious Grooves/ Loaded guitarist Dave Kushner.
In 1998, a "clean" (i.e. profanity removed) version of "Use Your Illusion" was released (in the USA only), mainly so the album could be sold in Wal-Mart and K-Mart stores.
Also in 1998, Axl put a new version of the band together and returned to the studio. This version of the band has been touring and recording sporadically ever since. The new band's membership has changed frequently, but its core members have included guitarist Robin Finck, effects man Chris Pitman, and bassist Tommy Stinson (formerly of The Replacements)— as well as Paul Tobias, drummer Josh Freese and longtime Guns N' Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed.
==="Chinese Democracy" (1999–present)===
In 1999, the band released one new song, "Oh My God", which was included on the soundtrack of the film "End of Days". The track featured additional guitar work by Dave Navarro and Gary Sunshine, Rose's personal guitar teacher. The song's release was intended to be a prelude to their new album, now officially entitled "Chinese Democracy". Geffen also released "Live Era: '87-'93", a collection of live performances from various concerts during the "Appetite for Destruction" and "Use Your Illusion" tours. Also in 1999, during an interview with Kurt Loder for MTV, Axl said that he had re-recorded "Appetite for Destruction" with the then-new band, apart from two songs which he had replaced with "Patience" and "You Could Be Mine".
In 1999, guitarist Robin Finck departed the band in order to rejoin his former band, Nine Inch Nails, on tour. In 2000, avant-garde guitarist Buckethead joined Guns N' Roses as a replacement for Finck. Josh Freese was replaced with Bryan Mantia (formerly of Primus
). Robin Finck returned to Guns N' Roses in late 2000, to complement Buckethead on lead guitar.
====The New Guns N' Roses====
The revised lineup finally made a public appearance in January 2001, with two well-received concerts, one in Las Vegas and one at the Rock in Rio Festival in Rio de Janeiro. The band played a mixture of old hits as well as new songs from their forthcoming album. During their Rock in Rio set, Rose made the following comment regarding former members of the band:
The new lineup played a further two shows in Las Vegas at the end of 2001. In 2002, rhythm guitarist Paul Tobias left the band because of his frustrations with life on the road. He was replaced by Richard Fortus (formerly of The Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love). The band then played several shows in August 2002, headlining festivals and concerts throughout Asia and Europe. They made their way to New York for a surprise appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in September.
In 2002, the band's first North American tour since 1993 was organized to support "Chinese Democracy". However, the opening show in Vancouver was cancelled by the venue when Rose failed to turn up (having remained in Los Angeles), and a riot ensued. This tour was met with mixed results. Some concerts did not sell well, while shows in larger markets such as New York sold out in minutes. Due to a second riot by fans in Philadelphia, tour promoter Clear Channel cancelled the remainder of the tour.
The band went on hiatus until they were scheduled to play at Rock in Rio IV in May 2004. However, Buckethead left the band in March of that year, causing the band to cancel. Also in March 2004, Geffen released Guns N' Roses' "Greatest Hits", since Rose had failed to deliver a new studio album in more than ten years. Rose expressed his displeasure with this album as its track listing was established without his consent and went as far as trying to block its release by suing Geffen. This failed, however, and the album went triple platinum in the USA.
In February 2006, demos of the songs "Better", "Catcher in the Rye", "I.R.S.", and "There Was a Time" were leaked on the internet through a Guns N' Roses fan site. The band's management requested that all links to the MP3 files and all lyrics to the songs be removed from forums and websites. Despite this, radio stations began adding "I.R.S." to playlists, and the song actually reached #49 on the Radio & Records Active Rock National Airplay chart in the final week of February - the first time an internet leak has done so.
On May 5, 2006, Axl Rose appeared on the "Friday Night Rocks with Eddie Trunk" radio show (during an interview with Sebastian Bach) and said that the new Guns N' Roses album would be released before the end of the year. Later in May, the band launched a European tour, headlining both the Download Festival and Rock In Rio - Lisbon. Four warm-up shows preceded the tour at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City and became the band's first live concert dates since the aborted 2002 tour. The shows also marked the debut of guitarist and composer Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, replacing Buckethead. During the tour, former bandmate Izzy Stradlin and ex-Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach made frequent guest appearances.
Five warm-up shows before a 2006 North American tour were held in September 2006. The tour officially commenced on October 24 in Miami. Drummer Frank Ferrer replaced Bryan Mantia, who took a leave of absence to be with his wife and newborn child. Coinciding with the tour, the song "Better" was featured in an internet advertisement for Harley-Davidson beginning in October 2006. That same month, Rolling Stone published an article revealing that Andy Wallace would be mixing the final album.
In December 2006, Axl Rose released an open letter to fans announcing that Merck Mercuriadis had been fired as the band's manager. He revealed that the last four dates of the North American tour would be cut so the band could work on postproduction for "Chinese Democracy". He also set a tentative release date for the album for the first time since the album's announcement: March 6, 2007.
On February 8, 2007, the band played a two-song set at the Rodeo Drive's Walk of Style ceremony, held in Beverly Hills, California. The band, with Chris Pitman on bass, blazed through "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and "Sweet Child o' Mine" to close the event, which honored Gianni and Donatella Versace.
On February 23, 2007, Del James announced that "Chinese Democracy"s recording stage was finished, and the band had now moved onto mixing the album. However, this proved that the March 6 release date would be impossible to achieve, and the album once again had no scheduled release date.
On May 4, 2007 three more tracks leaked from "Chinese Democracy"; an updated version of "I.R.S.", "The Blues" and the title track. All three tracks had previously been played live. Guns N' Roses embarked on the 2007 leg of the Chinese Democracy World Tour in Mexico on June, followed by dates on Australia and Japan. The songs "Nice Boys" and "Don't Cry" were played for the first time since the Use Your Illusion Tour. The tour ended on the twentieth anniversary of "Appetite for Destruction"s release date, in Osaka. During this tour, the band featured Axl Rose, Robin Finck, Ron Thal and Richard Fortus on guitars, Tommy Stinson on bass, Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman on keyboards and Frank Ferrer on drums.
Rose appears as a guest performer on three of the tracks on Sebastian Bach's album, "Angel Down", which was released on November 20, 2007.
On March 26, 2008, several news outlets reported that Dr Pepper will offer a free can of soda to everyone in America - except the band's former guitarists Slash and Buckethead - if the band releases "Chinese Democracy" this year. In a posting on Guns N' Roses' official site, Rose responded, "We are surprised and very happy to have the support of Dr Pepper with our album 'Chinese Democracy,' as for us, this came totally out of the blue. If there is any involvement with this promotion by our record company or others, we are unaware of such at this time. And as some of Buckethead's performances are on our album, I'll share my Dr Pepper with him."
On March 27, 2008, Rose announced on the official Guns N' Roses website, that new management was hired. The new management team consists of Irving Azoff and Andy Gould.
On April 5, 2008, a picture of Robin Finck appeared on Nine Inch Nails web page , under the title "Welcome Back!" starting the rumour of his possible reunion with Trent Reznor. Later, on April 11, 2008, Robin Finck expressed his happiness on playing again with NIN.
On April 20, 2008, on Guns N' Roses official website, Axl Rose expressed his surprise about Robin Finck's latest news but assure that the band was working with its management on the release of Chinese Democracy
and thanked the fans for the continuous shows of support
Nine tracks purported to be from "Chinese Democracy" were leaked to an online site on June 19, 2008 and quickly removed due to a cease-and-desist letter from the band's label. Six of the leaked tracks had surfaced previously in some form, while three were new. The leaked songs are fleshed out more than previously heard tracks.
On July 14, 2008, Harmonix, in conjunction with MTV Games, officially announced the release of a new song from the upcoming "Chinese Democracy" album, called "Shackler's Revenge", through their new game "Rock Band 2". The game is slated to ship first on September 14 for Xbox 360 game console, with subsequent releases for other platforms expected during the autumn.
On August 27, 2008, FBI agents arrested 27 year old Kevin Cogill for allegedly streaming 9 unreleased tracks on his web blog, Antiquiet, in June 2008. The tracks were apparently mastered and finished.
October 10, 2008, More than a decade after its conception, Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy” will finally see the light of day before year’s end, sources close to the situation told Billboard.
The set will be a Best Buy exclusive and will be available Sunday, Nov. 23, rather than the usual Tuesday.
The music of Guns N' Roses is a fusion of punk rock, heavy metal and classic rock and roll.
In the 1990s, the band integrated keyed instruments (played by either Rose or Reed, and accompanied on tour by Teddy Andreadis) into the band, and for roughly half of the "Use Your Illusion" tour, added a horn section to the stage. While Reed has remained on some of the "Chinese Democracy" demos, tours since 2000 have not included wind instruments, though the band has employed synthesized horns on some of their new songs.
A heavy influence on both the image and sound of the band was Finnish band Hanoi Rocks (singer Michael Monroe and Rose have collaborated on various occasions). Rose has stated that the band was massively inspired by bands like Queen
, The Rolling Stones, Rose Tattoo and AC/DC, and also that the sound of Appetite for Destruction was influenced by Aerosmith, The New York Dolls, AC/DC and Hanoi Rocks.
Guns N' Roses signed with a major label within eight months of their inception and topped national sales charts weeks after garnering late hours airplay on MTV. "Appetite for Destruction" was the second highest-selling debut album of all time, behind Boston's self-titled debut album.
Their peers in the music industry often spoke highly of the band: Ozzy Osbourne called Guns N' Roses "the next Rolling Stones." In 2002, "Q" magazine named Guns N' Roses in their list of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die". Also, the television network VH1 ranked Guns N' Roses ninth in its "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" special, and also ranked 11th on "Top 50 bands". "Appetite for Destruction" appeared in the Rolling Stone Magazine special issue "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Guns N' Roses #92 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time"..
The band has not been free of criticism by the media. The flagrant alcohol and drug abuse by some members of the group, and Axl's fondness of Charles Manson T-shirts, were used by the media to portray Guns N' Roses as a poor example and negative influence on their young fans. The long periods of time that the band took to release albums were also a source of heavy criticism (the band's second album, "GN'R Lies", was actually an EP and an old EP packaged together, and one of the songs was an acoustic cover of one from the band's debut album, it took from 1987 to 1991 to come up with a proper follow up to "Appetite for Destruction" and it has been 15 years since the band began work on their "Chinese Democracy" album).
Frontman Axl Rose has become a source of both controversy and criticism since the other founding members left the group. His constant elusiveness, such as the fact that he has not held a press conference since 1994, has led to several stories claiming he is suffering from bipolar disorder. Music critics have blamed Rose for the break-up of the original group, have criticized him for continuing the band after the original members had departed and have questioned the constant change in band members. They also cite his neurotic behavior and sense of perfectionism as a cause of personal conflict and the long delays between albums. However, Rose still has fans who view him as a sort of musical anti-hero.
*1987: "Appetite for Destruction"
*1988: "G N' R Lies"
*1991: "Use Your Illusion I"
*1991: "Use Your Illusion II"
*1993: The Spaghetti Incident?
*2008: "Chinese Democracy"
*Axl Rose - lead and backing vocals, piano (1985–present)
*Dizzy Reed - piano, keyboards, backing vocals (1990–present)
*Robin Finck - lead guitar (1997–1999, 2000–present)
*Tommy Stinson - bass, backing vocals (1998–present)
*Chris Pitman - keyboards, programming (1998–present)
*Bryan Mantia - drums (2000–present, has been on hiatus since September 2006)
*Richard Fortus - rhythm and lead guitars, backing vocals (2002–present)
*Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal - lead guitar (2006–present)
*Frank Ferrer - drums (2006–present)
Referenced from Wikipedia: Guns N' Roses